Campion College was opened in 2006 as Australia’s first liberal arts tertiary college.
Its Australian origins stem from the Campion Fellowship, a national association of Catholics formed in 1973 to provide adult education programs. But the College has a wider and longer history – both international, flowing from its contacts with overseas institutions, in Europe as well as North America, and historical, in relation to the great traditions of higher learning in the liberal arts going back to Plato’s Academy and the medieval universities.
From the 1970s, the Campion Fellowship enjoyed strong links with Catholic liberal arts universities and colleges in America and, in time, developed a proposal to found a corresponding institution in Australia. The aim was to provide a broad, pre-vocational education at the undergraduate level, based on a similar curriculum of core subjects in the humanities and the sciences, but be suited to Australian cultural conditions and educational requirements.
The College was named after the notable 16th century Oxford scholar and martyr, St Edmund Campion, who had long served as a patron of lay Catholic educational initiatives in Australia, beginning with the Campion Society in the 1930s.
In 2001, the Campion Foundation Limited was established as a public company to build upon this earlier work and to provide the necessary planning and financial support for the founding of Campion College Australia; and later, to continue to operate as its long-term fund-raising arm. The Foundation recently purchased the
10-acre campus at Old Toongabbie, which it had leased during the early years of the College’s operation, and it will be funding future building developments as the College expands.
In 2001, at the same time as the Foundation, the Campion Institute Limited, with the trading name of Campion College Australia, was registered as a public company. The College’s first staff members were gradually appointed, a substantial academic library was assembled, and a comprehensive building refurbishment was undertaken in preparation for the College’s opening in 2006.
On 1 July 2005, Campion College was officially approved as a registered Australian higher education institution by the NSW Department of Education and Training. The College’s foundation undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Arts in the Liberal Arts, was accredited on the same date.
Campion’s first graduation ceremony, in December 2008, was a significant milestone. It marks the first phase of the institution’s development, as the inaugural students received their degrees, and it confirms the College’s commitment to nurture future students in the liberal arts who will, by the quality of their education and the maturity of their religious faith, be able to live out a mission of leadership and service to society and the Church.